UPDATED: Driver dies after head-on crash on Sunset Boulevard

ST. GEORGE — A head-on collision between two pick-up trucks on Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday morning resulted in the death of one man and the arrest of another. It also snarled first-day-of-school traffic on the busy street.

The aftermath of a collision that occurred between Dodge Ram and Chevy S-10 pick-ups on Sunset Boulevard, St. George, Utah, Aug. 15, 2023 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The crash between a Dodge Ram and an older-model Chevy S-10 was reported occurred at 8:04 a.m., about 40 yards west of the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Valley View Drive. While one westbound lane of Sunset Boulevard remained open, the eastbound side was completely shut down. By 9:40 a.m., the one remaining westbound lane was also closed for police investigation work. 

Both sides of Sunset Boulevard weren’t reopened until 12:20 p.m.

Shortly after 1 p.m., St. George Police announced that the driver of the Chevy, 55-year-old Manuel Gomez, died of his injuries at St. George Regional Hospital. The cause of death has not been released.

“The driver of the other truck has been arrested for negligently operating a vehicle resulting in death and reckless driving,” St. George Police officer Tiffany Mitchell said in a statement.

The driver of the Dodge was identified as William Western, 47.

The nearest school, Utah Arts Academy, was already well into its session at the time of the crash but the street closure sent additional traffic north up Westridge Drive and 1400 West in the 25 mph school zone of Paradise Canyon Elementary School as children were arriving for a 9 a.m. start. 

St. George firefighters used the Jaws of Life within 30 minutes to rip the roof off the mangled, crunched S-10 that was on its side and free its only passenger, Gomez, who later died of his injuries after he was transported by Gold Cross Ambulance to St. George Regional Hospital. 

Western was mostly uninjured with bruises but underwent field sobriety tests, Mitchell told St. George News at the scene. Police have not released details of the results of the test. 

Mitchell said the S-10, carrying paint supplies, was traveling west on Sunset Boulevard while the Ram was going east. 

“The Dodge pickup crossed over into the westbound lanes and went head-on into this S-10, which then ended up in the eastbound lanes where you see them now,” Mitchell said. 

St. George firefighter carries Jaws of Life after collision between Dodge Ram and Chevy S-10 pick-ups on Sunset Boulevard, St. George, Utah, Aug. 15, 2023 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Washington City Police also responded to the scene. 

The crash occurred in front of the Phoenix Plaza Wells Fargo Bank on one side and several businesses on the other side of the street, which left those businesses closed or hindered the ability of people to get to them. 

A trail of debris crossed both sides of Sunset Boulevard – mostly from the S-10, which ended up on its side. Some paint was spilled but mostly on the Chevy truck, with red paint splashed on parts of the ripped metal. 

The Ram had all of its damage restricted to its front, though both vehicles appeared to be undrivable. 

St. George Police had their accident reconstruction team on scene, and Mitchell said most of Sunset Boulevard between Westridge Drive and Valley View Drive would remain closed throughout the morning. 

“They’re going to do all their measurements, all their drone footage, all the photos that they do,” Mitchell said. “So between Valley View and Westridge, we’re just asking people to stay off at least the eastbound side.”

Update August 15, 1:40 p.m. Identities of deceased and additional information. Video updated.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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